Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)



First Advisor

Qingwen Dong

First Committee Member

Teresa Bergman

Second Committee Member

Graham Carpenter


Over the last 15 years there has been a dynamic shift within the fitness industry, particularly for women. For decades, women were expected to participate in aerobic-based workouts and maintain a thin figure. This thin ideal has been harmful to women and contributed to low levels of self-esteem. CrossFit diverges from aerobics by encouraging strength training and teaching women that workouts can be functional, and beauty does not only lie in one’s aesthetics. The emergence and growth of CrossFit is shifting fitness-related gender norms and expectations, and possibly contributing to higher levels of self-esteem in women. This shift has become more apparent and visible though the growth of social networking sites like Instagram. Since Instagram is a photo- and video-based platform, there are significant opportunities for social comparison. Therefore, researchers should attempt to better understand how women in CrossFit engage with Instagram, and more specifically, how social comparison mediates self-esteem. This research gained insight into CrossFit—a fitness program dominating worldwide and challenging harmful social norms for women within the fitness industry—by examining how women CrossFitters engage in social comparison on Instagram. This research fills a much-needed gap because there is a lack of research on women CrossFitters, Instagram, and social comparison. The researcher administered a survey consisting of seven scales and 72 questions throughout the greater Sacramento area measuring social comparison habits, self-esteem, superiority, and Instagram use among women CrossFitters. The researcher used correlation analysis to answer the proposed hypotheses. Although the collected data did not fully support all hypotheses, the research produced significant results and implications that contribute to a better understanding of the current state of the fitness industry, Women CrossFitters’ use of Instagram, and social comparison.